I. PC 241.1/PC 245.3: Assault on a Custodial Officer
PC 241.1 “When an assault is committed against the person of a custodial officer as defined in Section 831 or 831.5, and the person committing the offense knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a custodial officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties, the offense shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.”
PC 245.3: “Every person who commits an assault with a deadly weapon or instrument or by any means likely to produce great bodily injury upon the person of a custodial officer as defined in Section 831 or 831.5, and who knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a custodial officer engaged in the performance of that person’s duties, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or five years.
When a person is convicted of a violation of this section in a case involving the use of a deadly weapon or instrument, and such weapon or instrument is owned by that person, the court may, in its discretion, order that the weapon or instrument be deemed a nuisance and shall be confiscated and destroyed in the manner provided by Sections 18000 and 18005.”
For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 241.1 the prosecution must show that:
1. You did any act that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to a person;
2. You did this act willfully;
3. When you acted, you were aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that your act by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to someone;
4. When you did this act, you had the present ability to apply force to a person;
5. When you acted, the person assault was lawfully performing their duties as a custodial officer;
6. When you acted, you knew or reasonably should have known, both that the person assaulted was a custodial officer and that they were performing their duties as a custodial officer;
7. You did not act in Self Defense or Defense of a Third Party.
For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 245.3 the prosecution must show that:
1. You willfully did an act with a deadly weapon that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to a person;
2. You did an act that by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to a person that would produce great bodily harm;
3. You did this act willingly;
4. When you acted, you were aware of facts that would lead a reasonable person to realize that your act by its nature would directly and probably result in the application of force to someone;
5. When you acted, you had the present ability to apply force likely to cause great bodily injury or with a deadly weapon to a person;
6. When you acted, the person assault was lawfully performing their duties as a custodial officer;
7. When you acted, you knew or reasonably should have known, both that the person assaulted was a custodial officer and that they were performing their duties as a custodial officer;
8. You did not act in Self Defense or Defense of a Third Party.
II. What does this mean?
Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage. The terms application of force and apply force mean to touch in a harmful or offensive manner. The slightest touching can be enough if it is done in a rude or angry way. Making contact with another person, including through his or her clothing, is enough. The touching does not have to cause pain or injury of any kind.
The touching can be done indirectly or by causing an object or another person to touch the other person. No person needs to actually even be injured under PC 241.1 by your act to be charged with this crime. A custodial officer is someone who works for law enforcement of a city or county, and is responsible for making custody of prisoners, and helps operate a local detention facility. In other words, it is the person who works in a jail, after you are being detained or arrested.
Great bodily injury means significant or substantial physical injury. It is an injury that is greater than minor or moderate harm. A deadly weapon is any object, instrument, or weapon [that is inherently deadly or one] that is used in such a way that it is capable of causing and likely to cause death or great bodily injury. An object is inherently deadly if it is deadly or dangerous in the ordinary use for which it was designed.
An assault on a custodial officer under PC 241.1 is a wobbler offense. That means it can be a felony or a misdemeanor offense. Whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor charge depends on the specific facts of your case as well as your criminal history. A misdemeanor conviction under this section can lead to up to one year in a County Jail. If you are convicted of this charge as a felony, you can be sentenced to upwards of 16 months, 2, or 3 years in a County Jail Prison. You would be required to serve at least 50% of that time in custody.
An assault causing great bodily injury or with a deadly weapon is a felony-only offense. A conviction under this section can lead to a punishment of upwards of 3, 4, or 5 years in a State Prison. You would be required to serve at least 50% of that time in custody.
PC 241.1 is not a strike offense under the Three Strikes Law, and it is also not a charge requiring Sex Registration under PC 290. If you are convicted of PC 245.3 it is a strike offense, but not a charge requiring registration under PC 290. You would likely face a loss, suspension, or revocation of your professional license. You could also face immigration consequences if you are a non-US Citizen living in the United States since this would be a violent crime in Federal Law. A violation under PC 245.3 is considered a “serious” felony under PC 1192.7 and is also a crime of moral turpitude.
Also, keep in mind, most often this offense happens when you are being arrested or already in police custody for a crime. Thus, these charges are added to whatever crime led you to be in contact with a custodial officer in the first place. In other words, you wouldn’t be charged with this crime at the grocery store, since a custodial officer will not be in the performance of their duties while shopping for groceries.
IV. Common Defenses
4. Self Defense
If the custodial officer was not acting in their duties, for example, if they were making an illegal arrest of you or a loved one, then you could not be found guilty under this section for assault on a Custodial Officer. Of course, this is not an invitation to attack custodial officers if they are arresting you, but it can be a defense down the line if that’s what the officer was doing. This would show that there is insufficient evidence to find you guilty of the crime.
Further, if you are acting in the defense of others, then you cannot be found guilty under this section. For example, if you see a custodial officer arresting another, and you see the officer is potentially killing the other person, and you interfere by pushing the police officer off of the person being arrested to save them, you would not be guilty under this section either. However, if the officer makes a statement to you that you find offensive, no matter how offensive the words may be, it is NOT a defense to the attack and assaults the police officer for their words alone.
V. Call Today
When police officers are the victims of crimes, Prosecutors generally fight harder to prosecute. This means harsher penalties, longer jail sentences, and the feeling that they are “Throwing the book at you”. This type of prosecution requires an equally aggressive and well-planned defense. This is why hiring an experienced attorney that represents these types of criminal charges is so important to your potential freedom you could lose on a conviction under this section. Our PC 241.1 and PC 245.3 Ontario attorney has successfully defended numerous cases involving crimes dealing with assaults on Custodial Officers. You, or your loved one, cannot take a chance on such a serious charge. The initial consultation is free and we are available to answer your questions 24/7. Call the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126! Located in Ontario, CA.